The information we received from the surveys revealed that the skulls were the undisputed favorite. Some of the other responses were positive, but the skulls and monsters were overwhelming hits. If the entire music community loved them as much as our sample population did, they were going to be huge. We were jazzed. It was clear we needed to get moving on making a mold and getting into a tradeshow – would buyers and distributors respond equally well to our idea?
We hired a company to produce the mold; it’d cost nearly 5,000 dollars and take four weeks. I discovered that the NAMM Show, one of the largest music product trade shows in the world, was coming up. But it was too late to get a booth. I knew that it was crucial we attend the trade show – if we didn’t show to buyers and distributors, we’d miss out on an entire year. I knew it was our opportunity. But how were we going to get in?
Rob wasn’t so wild about these type of shows. He’d been to a few and his experience was decidedly negative. I urged him to look at it differently, to try it, but he didn’t want to invest money into an adventure he wasn’t so sure was a sure thing. But I was pretty adamant.
Assuming that the advertisers in Guitar World would likely be at the show, I thumbed through the magazine in search of a partner. I found one of the smaller guys, called him, and introduced myself. I explained that I had a new type of guitar pick, but it was too late to enter the show. Would he be willing to share part of his booth with me? It was a pretty gutsy thing to do, seeing as how I didn’t know anyone, but it paid off. I’ll never forget the guy. He was wonderful, told me “Sure I’ll share that cost with you.” It was 1200 dollars for half the booth.
Rob wasn’t quite as sold. As the manager of finances, he wanted to know the guarantee. “Who’s to say he’ll even share the booth when we get down there?” he asked. But I had to go with my instinct. Sometimes you won’t have a guarantee. I liked the guy and decided to trust him. My gut was telling me it would be okay.
We designed our booth (a stunning card table and table cloth!) and crossed our fingers the company would actually produce our guitar picks on time. At this point we’d spent 5000 dollars on the mold, several other hundred on inventory, 1200 on the booth, travel, hotel… it totaled a little under 10,000 dollars. Which isn’t a lot of money to invest on start up, but you’ve got to play smart. We’d taken an educated risk. Rob knew a great deal about the industry and we had received an extremely positive response from our initial test. We had to know if our idea had a real chance to be picked up and potentially taken to market.